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New Zealand comparison to the world

Dr Anna Earl explores the need to continuously focus on societal wellbeing through smart city initiatives.
Smart Cities concept that has captured scholarly attention and made practitioners excited about sustainable urban development. The Smart City phenomenon is not new. It goes back to 1970s where the first big data was generated in Los Angeles. Since then, Smart Cities has become one of the most popular ideals behind development of Smart Cities. The most popular ideological threat that underpins the Smart City phenomenon is a shared adamant faith in technology and innovation. While we need technology to stay competitive, the Smart Cities development also requires integration of community, social, and regulatory environments. The interpretation of the concept of Smart City has been filtered through specific political, economic, and cultural factors depending upon equally specific places, thereby resulting in diverse built environments.
I ask myself a question: How can we increase societal wellbeing as a whole from Smart Cities development if we cannot focus our heterogeneity environments on the key purpose of Smart Cities development? We just creating better lives for the society. If we look at the Smart Cities as an ecosystem, the elements and attributes within this ecosystem should ideally benefit the entire society. These ecosystem elements include supporting services for the production of other ecosystem services, regulating the benefits obtained from regulation of Smart City ecosystem. For example, climate change regulations and their benefits for water pollution. Cultural non-material benefits obtained from ecosystems, for example, conservation of cultural heritage. And provisioning products obtained from ecosystems.
In order to support these elements, the Smart Cities ecosystems requires action that focuses on being material minimum, building and nurturing social relations, allowing for freedom and choice, and ensuring security. To ensure that the actions required to support the elements of the Smart Cities ecosystems, we have to learn how to collaborate for the good of shared interests. The concept of shared cities illustrates the need for co-creation of shared values around Smart Cities and collaboration. Shared cities is a creative momentum that established an international network of seven European cities, including Belgrade, Berlin, Bratislava, Budapest, Catawissa, Prague, and Warsaw.
The goals for this collaboration are to contribute to the transformation of urban life through sharing, to create active citizen participation, to co-create a better place to live in, to stimulate innovation and creativity, and to create shared communities through sharing goals and identifying with a place. This sharing is facilitated by the seven shared cities in the forms of festivals, films, exhibitions, artists residences, and case studies. The key objective of these activities is to strengthen trust between cities and citizens, which results in creating better living.
The challenge with creating shared Smart Cities is to overcome the psychological blockage of thinking about staying competitive and transforming our thinking to the fact that sharing resources and knowledge, co-creation, can lead to better use of technology, an ecosystem of shared values among different stakeholders. New Zealand has done a fantastic job in taking the Smart Cities initiatives to the next level. New Zealand presents a unique and exciting context to create a very competitive playground for creating the Smart City ecosystem. However, do we have the shared cities culture necessary to develop Smart Cities ecosystem? New Zealand has the backbones for developing Smart Cities ecosystems through innovation, technology, and community engagement. But there is a need for creating synergy between these elements.
Once the synergy is achieved then we can start emphasising more on creating shared values among cities. Something that shared cities worldwide have done a fantastic job of. There are two key challenges that both academic communities from various disciplines and practitioners face, not only in New Zealand but globally in relation to developing Smart Cities ecosystems. First, how can we avoid tokenism in relation to conducting research on Smart Cities and create meaningful impact on the entire Smart Cities ecosystem? Second, how can we strengthen trust between cities and citizens in order to facilitate societal transitions. Societal transitions can be very complex because the need for the transition is often stimulated by complex societal issues.
The key to smooth transition process is through sharing resources such as information, emotional, self-esteem, networks, and instruments. This would help to create shared value approach within communities as well as create more transparency. Overcoming these challenges requires strong governance that creates space for support, engagement, and value co-creation.

Dr Anna Earl builds on the purpose discussed in the previous segment reflecting on the need to continuously focus on societal wellbeing through smart city initiatives.

Dr Anna Earl poses an important question, how do you think we can strengthen trust between cities and citizens in order to facilitate societal transitions? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Smart Cities: Social Change Through Technology

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